Former Premier League referee and lifelong fan Jeff Winter assesses Boro’s massive summer of change
BORO fans are very upbeat and optimistic about their return to the Championship following the appointment of Garry Monk to replace the defensively minded Aitor Karanka.
Over 20,000 season tickets have been sold as Steve Gibson once again backs his manager to the hilt.
Over £40million has been spent already although with a revamp of Karanka’s misfiring squad from last season necessary the outgoings have helped defray the cost considerably.
There will be more comings and goings before the transfer window closes.
With the addition of Britt Assombalonga, Martin Braithwaite and Ashley Fletcher, Boro fans are expecting goals and a much more attacking approach from their side.
There isn’t over confidence though as the Championship will be even more competitive this season.
Also signing a load of new players doesn’t guarantee instant success, they will need time to settle in and gel as a team.
The other thing is that whilst you need strength in depth for the arduous 46 game season, it is difficult at the moment for fans to second guess what Monk’s starting line-up will be.
With the new attacking players added to the likes of Patrick Bamford, Adama Traore, Rudy Gestede and Monk’s reported preference for a 4-2-3-1 formation, it’s hard to imagine how the jigsaw will piece itself together.
With question marks over the future of Marten De Roon, Ben Gibson and Gaston Ramirez it is even harder to assess who will be in the squad come the first week in September.
These though are problems that most Championship managers would love to have and overall the feeling on Teesside is that Boro are well equipped to make an instant return to the top flight.
The supporters knowing that it took seven years to return after the last relegation won’t be counting their chickens.
They will be demanding a more adventurous approach and entertainment as opposed to what they endured last season.
The Teesside mantra has always been to expect 100 per cent effort and if you are to be beaten to go down fighting.
Middlesbrough’s summer spending
Britt Assombalonga – £15m from Nottingham Forest
Martin Braithwaite – £9m from Toulouse
Ashley Fletcher – £6.5m from West Ham
Darren Randolph – £5m from West Ham
Jonny Howson – £5m from Norwich City
Cyrus Christie – £2.5m from Derby County
Connor Roberts – Season-long loan from Swansea City
The supporters were short changed under Karanka, however they have remained behind the club and the full away allocation for the first away game at Wolves on August 5 went inside an hour.
There will be twists and turns and no certainties in probably the most competitive division in European football but Teesside expects and anything less than promotion come next May will be deemed as failure by the majority of the supporters.
Jeff Winter is now a popular after dinner speaker. To contact the ex-Prem whistleblower you can follow him on his official Facebook page or on Twitter @WinterJeff.
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